Just over 32 years ago, on September 26, 1983, a hero saved the world from a nuclear apocalypse. His name was Stanislaw Petrov. That night he was coordinating Petrof Russian aerospace defense from his command post at the Centre for Early Warning of military intelligence of the USSR, where he had come to replace a sick colleague. The Cold War had reached a point of maximum tension, and orders were clear: shoot the full arsenal at the first indication of a nuclear attack. A few weeks earlier, a South Korean plane line had mistakenly entered Soviet airspace was shot down without warning killing 269 people, including a senator and several US citizens.
At 12:14 am on the 26th, all alerts of the command post jumped with the message that a missile had been launched from a US base. Alerting of the nuclear attack to the top officials was in the hands of Petrof, which would trigger a counterattack that could kill millions.
Petrof remained calm and asked everyone to do his or her job. The margin was 20 minutes until the missile course landed in the USSR. Meanwhile, systems warned the launch of four nuclear missiles from the United States.
Petrov knew that the system could have failures, but five consecutive failures seemed highly unlikely. Moreover, such an attack did not make sense: having decided to act, the United States would have done so with full force and not with five isolated missiles. Besides, it was a suicidal and crazy maneuver. So finally he alerted the Soviet leadership of a system malfunction ... and hit. Thanks to his common sense, it is estimated that between 300 and 400 billion people were saved from dying in a nuclear holocaust.
Although marketing is far from being a matter of life and death, the history of Petrof reminds us of the daily work of many marketing directors.
As Petrof’s command post, a good marketing director must know how to put systems in place for collecting data, alerts and protocols. For example, be able to detect early if a wave of negative reputation around the brand is generated and how to act quickly to minimize the consequences.
When making decisions, a marketing manager must show calm and coolness. The future of the brand may be at stake, but as the "captain of the ship" he or she should never lose their nerves or be carried away by emotions. Often, this professional has to make decisions without 100% of the necessary information. Intuition and common sense are key to save the brand qualities of potential disasters.
And finally, the marketing manager has to perform under pressure, as it has behind them an advertiser who only cares about results and must justify every detail of your investment. Luckily, if you make a mistake, the consequences for humanity will be much less severe.
Photo by _Gavroche_ (Flickr)